You want to know how do antacids work, right? You may like to read about What is antacid? before that.
Antacids are a quick and inexpensive way to reduce the stomach acidity that may be causing the acid indigestion and relieve heartburn.
Our stomach uses gastric acid to digest foods. This stomach acid is a must for the proper digestion of food.
Stomach acid is produced at our regular meal times, which makes you feel hungry. It should be produced only as much is needed.
So we want to have the stomach acids at the correct levels, not remove all the acids. Sometimes this acid is produced in excess because of various reasons.
When too much acid is produced, it can cause acid indigestion, lead to heartburn and many other digestive disorders. It also causes discomfort, pain to the person after a meal.
Antacid is anti acid - which reduces or neutralizes the stomach acid. Most antacids are weak based and have some alkali to reduce most of the stomach acid that can irritate the lining of esophagus and stomach. That way it reduces the pain and the burning sensation caused by the stomach acids.
Antacids help to raise the pH level of the stomach from an excess acidic state. Neutral pH is 7, while the normal stomach acid level is 2 to 4.
Antacids contain sodium, calcium, magnesium or aluminum, or a combination of these. Any of these ingredients can raise pH levels by neutralizing stomach acid.
Antacids are effective in relieving the heartburn symptoms and indigestion. But they only help in temporary relieving, not in the cure. Once the effects of antacids are over, the stomach acids may again rise when you eat next.
There are many reasons for the stomach acid production increase beyond necessity. The type of foods we eat, stress levels, sleep patterns, meal times, our mental condition/attitude while eating etc. are some of the reasons that can increase or reduce the stomach acids.
So we can not use antacids as a long term solution for heartburn and acid indigestion. It works just like a temporary band-aid.
Long term use of store bought chemical antacids is also likely to be ineffective in giving relief from heartburn and acid indigestion. Apart from that, these chemical antacids can cause side effects too.